Shoes Have Names: An exhibition dedicated to opening the conversation on homelessness

08.10.2020 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Looking to develop a language for fashion which is about a greater purpose and social cause, artist Jo Cope is bringing communities together through her touring exhibition Shoes Have Names.

Joining forces with Shelter, Shoes Have Names features a collection of handmade artworks inspired by the personal experiences of real people facing homelessness. Ten international artists, shoemakers and designers were paired up with a person that Shelter has helped through its frontline services.  

Discussing the exhibition, Jo Cope surmised: “Shoes Have Names aims to use fashion as a positive vehicle to create greater public awareness of homelessness. It also celebrates the amazing work of Shelter. This year, as the pandemic took hold and more and more people found themselves facing their own housing crisis, Shelter’s services have never been more vital.“

Exploring the shoes created by Tabitha Ringwood, she collaborated with Kimberley who was heavily pregnant when she received a shock eviction notice. She then faced ’No DSS’ discrimination and struggled to find a landlord who accepted tenants who received housing benefits. Crafting a red stiletto repurposed from a leather sofa, the message of hope and positive change in the face of adversity is pulled from the meaning a sofa can hold for a home: a centralised sense of comfort and security, an unknown to many who are supported by Shelter.

Jo Cope’s dedication for the exhibition is to spotlight the role and responsibility fashion must uphold now more than ever: “Fashion’s role in society is changing; this fashion project reflects the need for ethical shifts in the fashion industry towards something more human-centred. Boutique by Shelter, which is already doing great things for sustainability, was the perfect partner. And naming shoes after real people supported by Shelter is a way of giving these people back their place in society and a positive identity, which can sometimes be lost by the blanket term ‘homeless.”

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Red Bull Arts New York presents Akeem Smith: No Gyal Can Test

20.09.2020 | Art , Blog | BY:

In collaboration with Red Bull Arts New York , Jamaican stylist, designer and artist Akeem Smith is set to present his first solo exhibition entitled “No Gyal Can Test” at the Red Bull Arts New York. Set to open doors on September 24th, the exhibition is a compilation of personal photographs and videos gifted to the artist over the past decade by family members, friends and members of Kingston’s dancehall community, documenting the iconic era.  

“Drawing upon his experience growing up between New York and Jamaica, Smith harmonizes disparate elements from this extensive archival documentation, which chronicles this seminal era from the early 80s through y2k, conjuring a collective memory that otherwise would have only existed on the threshold of the artist’s own. Part poem, part anthropological homage, No Gyal Can Test forms a layered exploration of spectral coloniality, diaspora, and the voyeurism that results from transposing these artefacts across cultural, economic, and temporal divides.”

The exhibit includes work in collaboration with sculptor Jessi Reacves, British fashion designer Grace Wales Bonners and musicians Total Freedom, Physical Therapy, Alex Somers and dancehall icon Bounty Killer. Visit Red Bull Arts for more information on Akeem Smith: No Gyal Can Test. 

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Unit London presents : The Medium is the Message

11.09.2020 | Art , Blog | BY:

Cover image : Sthenjwa Luthuli, Untold Stories, 2020 Hand carved wood & 149 x 198cm, courtesy of Unit London

London based Gallery Unit London recently announced the upcoming opening of their exhibition The Medium is the Message — a group show 18 emerging artists exploring the role pigment and blackness plays in the expression of identity through artistic mediums. Set to open on October 2nd, the showcased has been curated by Azu Nwagbogu with the aid of assistant curators Wunika Mukan & Jana Terblanche. With the work of Wonder Buhle Mbambo, Ngozi Schommers, Barry Yusufu among many others the exhibition tells the story of a world which stigmatises Blackness & Brownness while simultaneously celebrating its cultural fruits. Each artist throughout the exhibition approaches this from unique angles, names like Collins Obijiaku for example uses portraiture, domestic settings and seemingly mundane scenes to reflect notions of identity with compositions. While many of the other artists challenge stereotypes and politicised images of black and brown people by focusing on traditions ritual and familial bonds. 

Katlego Tlabela, Tableau Vivant ll Step Ya Money Up! (After Kerry James Marshell’s Club Couple), 2020, Acrylic, ink and collage on canvas Diptych, 77 x 154cm each, 77 x 77 cm, courtesy of Unit London

‘While representation is important, it is empty if it is not succeeded by unfettered existence. This exhibition veers away from the performative power of the image and ponders existence beyond representation. The Blackness presented here is authentic, quiet, and confident. It rejects the societal gaze whereby Blackness is inextricably linked to majesty or misery with very little gradation between the two, their art unveils many facets of black existence that encompass play, solitude, contemplation and a range of human experience with approaches that do not kowtow to exoticism, but rather reflect the communities from whence they were birthed,’ explained curator Azu Nwagbogu . 

For the full list of artists and further information about the exhibit visit theunitldn.com 

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ANIME SALVE by Jess Kohl – A Detailed Visual Account of Neapolitan Queer Culture

26.08.2020 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

British photographer and director Jess Kohl is scheduled to inaugurate her first Italian solo exhibition next month under the title Anime Salve. Set to debut in Napoli, Italy the presentation is a visual documentary recollected during the last two years, intimately exploring themes of gender non-conformity in a city like Scampia where spirituality, gender and sexuality have long co-existed.

Initially her body of work began with a magnification of the concept of the Italian slang ‘femminielli’ which is a word used to describe effeminate men — often used in modern Neapolitan culture. The exhibition then takes its viewers on a journey throughout the lives of five people, most living in Scampia, as they’re framed in intimate portraits and candid shots. A woman named Alessia is documented living with her elderly mother Amalia and Kohl captures current moments of an ever-changing narrative that moves with the city that surrounds them. 

Each subject was documented over a period of years,  which gives an accurate scope of their personal evolution and an authentic representation of marginalised communities throughout change. Named after the famous album of Italian songwriter Fabrizio De André, the exhibition (which translates to “solitary spirits”), also includes monochromatic images documenting the architectural and developments of the Scampian landscape, an exploration of the intersection between queerness and Catholicism, and a visual map between traditions of the femminielli and modern day trans lives. It then closes with a thought-provoking ending composed of 8 portraits that bridges a sentimental connection between the lives of trans women in Napoli and trans women in Koovagam, India through cultural similarities and liberal attitudes towards gender.

Also accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue by ShowDesk, giving a more detailed scope on the documentary which includes an essay by Paolo Valerio, honorary professor of clinical  psychology at the Federico II Naples University. Anime Salve will officially open its doors on September 11th 2020 at the Palazzo delle Arti Napoli. 

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Peter Lindbergh : Untold Stories at Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe Hamburg

13.08.2020 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

Earlier this year Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe Hamburg inaugurated their run of the ongoing exhibition Peter Lindbergh: Untold Stories. The exhibit features unseen work of the iconic German fashion photographer and is the first ever survey exhibition curated by Peter Lindbergh himself prior to his passing in September 2019. It celebrates the legacy of his work with a collection of 140 photographs accumulated over two years which offer an insight into his extensive oeuvre, spanning from the 1980’s the present day.

The first time I saw my photographs on the walls of the exhibition mock-up, I was startled, but in a positive way. It was overwhelming to be thus confronted with who I am,” Lindbergh explained during an interview in 2019. His famous black and white work is known for transcending their own context and giving an alternate spin on fashion photography by finding ways to not have his images centred around the fashion. 

© Peter LindberghCourtesy of Peter Lindbergh, Paris

“The exhibition allowed me to reconsider my images in a non fashion context. The presentation aims to open the photographs to different interpretations and perspectives. However, I don’t try to claim that my pictures aren’t fashion photographs, that wouldn’t be true either. I insist on the definition “fashion photography because for me that terms doesn’t mean that one has to depict fashion — photography is much bigger than fashion, it is a part of contemporary culture, ” he commented. 

The showcase is divided into three chapters, two of which are large scale installations: opening with Manifest, which offers an insightful thought provoking immersive introduction to the late photographer’s perspective of fashion photography; while the central section features never before experimental works of the photographers shown in pairs or groups; and it then closes with a film installation entitled Testament (2014) which is an unveiling of a hither unknown side of the character of the iconic image maker featuring some unexpected and emotionally moving subjects. The exhibition is currently on at the  Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe Hamburg until the the 1st of November and is also accompanied by a 320 page hardcover catalogue with 150 images and exclusive interviews with the photographer. For more information visit MKG.

© Peter LindberghCourtesy of Peter Lindbergh, Paris

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A chat with Ming Smith – the photographer whose work is soft, intimate & bathed in community through its documentation of the black American experience.

22.07.2020 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

Cover image: America Seen Through Stars and Stripes, New York City, NewYork Painted, 1976, by Ming Smith

Ming Smith, not necessarily a name widely known in photography, was the first Black woman to have her photographic work accepted into the Museum of Modern Art, in 1975.

The only female member of the Kamoinge Collective, and a dedicated image maker to capturing the humanity for the Black Experience, Ming Smith’s imagery and life trajectory is due a mighty relook. Currently staging an online exhibition of a selection of Smith’s work, from her image of Grace Jones as a Ballerina, to the playwright August Wilson, Pippy Houldsworth Gallery has moved the exhibition online through Vortic

We caught up with the photographer from her apartment in New York. 

How did you first get into photography?

I borrowed my mother’s camera on my first day of school in kindergarten and I took photographs of some of my school mates. The class was predominantly white, and we were about 10% of the class. I had a lot of friends and classmates that I took photographs of. 

Did you feel looking back that there was a central focus for your photographs?

It was just a natural thing. My father was a photographer. He was a hobbyist but he was really artistic: he drew, painted, did films and things like that. However he worked 12 hours a day as a pharmacist, so he didn’t do photography a lot, however I think it then became for me a natural thing to do. 

You trained to be a doctor initially, and then you decided to focus on a career in photography. 

My grandfather would always say that he wanted me to be a doctor. I liked that because he taught bible school, and my grandmother was helping all the neighbours, so I felt that being a doctor was a way of helping people. I know that might sound pretty naive but that was what I wanted to do. I did volunteer work at the children’s hospital when I was young. I saw a lot of pain around me, so I wanted to help.  Being a doctor was a way of trying to help. Then I read something about artists, and they were talking about the system and how your work could help humanity, and you work could be outside of the system, instead focusing and turning ideas into something that would be healing. 

Child Porter, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 1972 by Ming Smith

There is such a sense of intimacy and connectivity about your images. How do you capture that? What do you look for in your subject matter? 

Well there are stereotypes of the Black community, but there is so much love in the community, from people who were making and doing the best spiritually or going to church. There was just this stereotype of Black people, you know, and I never saw those types of images with the love and the empathy and the humanity with the people that were around me in my community.

You have become renowned for your portraiture for Black cultural figures and icons What did you hope to profess or present in these images of these icons?

I hope that other young people or students will find inspiration in what they are teaching: the struggles and what they went through to get to where we are now. For example, August Wilson, I went to Pittsburgh and photographed his hometown and economically depressed neighbourhoods and shot some of the places he talked about in his plays. He documented the comic and the tragic aspects of the African American experience in the 20th Century. The characters in Pittsburgh were the same characters that I knew in Ohio where I grew up, or Detroit, where I was born. 

Lou Drapper’s Pick, 1973 by Ming Smith

What would you say the main challenges you have faced in your career?

I would say being taken seriously. I am a better photographer than a talker. I am quiet, and I like that with photography you can be by yourself, you don’t have to talk. Being shy, photography was a way of me being in it but out of it at the same time. If you are a quiet person it’s harder to take you seriously.

I went to a gallery seeking representation, and the gallerist didn’t hardly even look at my photographs; it was very disappointing. Just like “ok, thank you”. Just total dismissal.

Did you have a lot of other female counterparts and friends that were experiencing the same in the art industry or the creative industry?

I am sure there was, and I’m sure there is, but I have really continued to be a loner and doing photography was almost like a friend or a companion and was how I spent my time. Being a photographer was a way of expressing yourself and going through your own challenges, and needs, and so I spent my time not really talking to anyone else. 

Ethiopian Crew, 1973 by Ming Smith

What was New York like when you arrived? What were you focussing your photography on?

When I got to New York I was photographing but I came for money, and one of the first jobs I had was as a model. It was like 100 dollars an hour: an Ohio pharmacist back then was making 100 dollars a week. 

Someone told me ‘you should be a model’, and so I tried it for a bit. When I first met Grace Jones, she was an aspiring model also. 

You were part of the Kamoinge Workshop: did you feel like things changed then, that you were a part of a group of like-minded individuals?

Going to the meetings, I was first introduced to photography as an art form. Prior to this I had not committed myself to being an artist.  I didn’t think of myself as a photographer as I was still studying pre-med curriculum. So when I came to Kamoinge, I had first heard about the collective on an assignment, where a photographer was talking about whether photography was an art form. I was invited into Kamoinge by Lou Draper, who also printed for Eugene Smith. He used to tell me stories about Lorraine Hansberry, who I loved. that was when I first learned about the goal of Kamoinge: to own and interpret our own images. Roy Decarava was one of the founders of Kamoinge, which came out of the Black Arts Movement, where they started plays, and there were writers, musicians, painters, artists. That is where I learnt about lighting. I remember one member saying that his neighbourhood grew up in Harlem, and that all the young men that he grew up with were all dead. That opened my eyes to the politics. 

Oolong’s Nightmare,Save The Children (for Marvin Gaye), New York City, New York 1979 by Ming Smith

Tell us about your experience of fashion photography.

In New York I never knew about fashion photographers and advertising: it was a completely new world. I had a chance to go into both of those worlds, as I was modelling. I met people like James Moore who was a beauty photographer, or Arthur Elgort or Deborah Turberville, who I loved. She photographed my lips for a Bloomingdales bag! She did fine art photography besides that; I really liked her. I lived in the Village, so I knew Lisette Model, and I would go eat at this little dinner, the Waverley – the cheapest diner! You could buy a meal for five dollars there, and that was where Lisette Model would eat too! She would tell me stories about Diane Arbus, and she would call her Dion. For the longest time, I didn’t realise she was talking about Diane Arbus as she called her Dion!

You documented some of the greatest spokespeople of the African American experience. 

August Wilson really told our stories through his plays: the comic and the tragic of the African American experience. That is what connected me to him, to go to Pittsburgh and photograph him. Eugene Smith did a famous series on Pittsburgh, but the African American experience wasn’t documented. This is another aspect of my work. We also have Katherine Dunham. She was an anthropologist, choreographer, writer. She was an activist as well: she wouldn’t perform in places unless they de-segregated the audiences. There is always a struggle, that is extremely distressing of the black American community. They simplified the experiences of the black community in the 20th Century. Katherine went to Haiti and Africa and notarised the dance technique. When she won the Kennedy award, she talked about how hip hop came out of her technique, meaning the isolations and different notations of moves and contractions and release. Now we have dance, twerk, afro-latin, west African, Haitian, rumba, Caribbean, west African beats. We have had all these different classes come out of the diaspora. That is what Katherine Dunham did. 

Flying High, Coney Island, 1976, by Ming Smith

How do you get inspired?

I follow mainly instincts and my heart about things. I hope to say these things in my work: that is the intention. 

Would you say your photography is driven by intuition?

Definitely. Intuition, which is also very spiritual. It is like there is a spirit that speaks within me, and I go with that. I trust that more than I trust my brain. 

What changes do you see in the photography industry now? 

There is a lot more inclusion, and participation. There are different avenues for photographers – there are now young black American fashion photographers, and I think a lot of the hip hop generation are participating in that inclusion, you can go into documentaries, they work with the NYT. I think this is not only in America, but globally. 

Beauty, Coney Island, 1976 by Ming Smith

Do you think there are still many racial obstacles that need to be overcome in the art industry?

I think of course, but I am in the middle of it, and sometimes it is harder to see, but of course I think there has been many steps in the right direction. Dr Deborah Willis, she started doing books on black images, she started this in publishing and the School – she has made a life of that. I remember she came to Kamoinge to do a book. It wasn’t easy for her to receive support so I think that we have a voice now greater than before and it is growing. People are conscious of it, and they are trying to make it right, or more honest: the documentation of us, including us. Not just the stereotypes. More human.

Do you see more women photographers being showcased?

Most definitely, but I also think that there is more of an option. Before, it was a question of what could you even do with photography! Photographers and artists now, there are different avenues and you can earn a living from it! I see this more and more. Before, what could you do with it, how could you earn a living? Now, photographers both men and women are like ‘oh I could do photography, portraiture.’ 

There wasn’t any kind of show, exhibitions, talks, creating a book… there wasn’t those options. You did it out of pure love in the beginning. You did photography as an art form.

Self Portrait Nursing (Total), 1986 by Ming Smith

Do you still photograph regularly?

Yes I do! The main obstacle with that is everything is digital now. I am doing a book at the moment for Aperture, and so taking it from film to digitising it, to having to re-edit everything over again… it’s a lot! I need a lot of help with the translating of it. 

What do you hope viewers take away from your works?

I think just the personal struggles, the empathy or the humanity or the altruism or just being supportive. Maybe the humanity, and that being exposed to the people I have photographed, they will know what to do. It was like when I heard my first August Wilson play, or the drum, and I went and took my first dance class and the teacher told me he was a Katherine Dunham dancer. People will get what they get from my photography: hopefully an experience that will inspire them in some kind of way. 

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GUCCI Presents, “No Space , Just A Place”

13.05.2020 | Art , Blog | BY:

One of Gucci’s last exhibitions was their iconic collaboration in Maurizio Cattelan two years ago in Shanghai which gained much critical acclaim. Which is why we’re so excited for their latest venture. The house has returned to the content in the city of Seoul for their recently opened exhibit entitled “No Space, Just A Place.” Gucci’s Artistic director Alessandro Michele teamed up with curator Myriam Ben Salah to create a visual story which pays homage to the city’s art and culture. 

Hosted at the Daelim Museum, the showcase poses questions of cultural identity, nonconformity and belonging at the hands of several local Korean artists and institutions including d/p , the Boan1942, Hapjungjigu, OF, space illi, Tastehouse, Post Territory Ujeongguk , White Noise as well as the likes of some international artists like Meriem Bennani, Cecil B. Evans , Martine Syms, Olivia Erlanger & Kong Seung. 

Each project within the exhibit opens a door to an alternate world, as an exploration of several dimensions of utopia. Among the project titles included in the showcase are ‘Psychedelic Nature’ by Boan1942; ‘Secret of Longevity by White Noise which is a exploration of collaboration among artists and  ‘Swimming QFWFQ’ by space illi which speaks on what society deems natural through the eyes of female artists. The exhibition is one that is sure to leave it’s audience thinking for hours and even days, and as a result of the COVID outbreak m the house has managed to treat us to virtual rendition of the exhibit which can be viewed here. The physical exhibit is currently active and will run until July 12th, for more information visit No Space, Just A Place.

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“Inside Helmut Newton 100″ – A Digital Initiative

07.05.2020 | Art , Blog | BY:

Helmut Newton is known by many as one the most dexterous photographers of the 20th century. His notorious black and white work pushed the boundaries for fashion and fine-art photography, as he was one of the pioneers to explore themes such as sexuality and femininity within fashion.  The Newlands House Gallery was recently opened which is a space located in Petworth dedicated to contemporary art, photography and design. 

The space’s inaugural exhibition titled HELMUT NEWTON 100, which debuted in March was temporarily closed as a result of the current health crisis, but in response the gallery has introduced “Inside Helmut Newton 100.”

Curated by the gallery’s artistic director, auctioneer, art dealer and DJ Simon De Pury, the digital exhibition features a virtual tour of the exhibition which can be viewed via instagram and facebook as he takes the audience through the collection of iconic portraits, landscapes and fashion images, as well as glimpses of some never before seen artwork from the photographer.  The virtual initiative will also feature a section titled “friends of Helmut” which will engage some of the photographer’s friends such as Mary McCartney & Juergen Teller in discussion . Keep up with gallery’s digital endeavours by following Newlands.House.Gallery.

Jenny Capitain, Pension Dorian, Berlin, 1977’ by Helmut Newton
Neewlands House Gallery by Elizabeth Zeschin
Neewlands House Gallery by Elizabeth Zeschin

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Musée des Arts Décoratifs : “Christian Dior, Designer of Dreams” Virtual Tour

23.04.2020 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

French Maison Christian Dior recently launched a virtual tour to their latest exhibition’s in partnership with Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Titled “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams,” this exhibition traces the impact of one of the 20th century’s most influential couturiers while exploring the works of the six artistic directors who succeeded him.

“There is no other country in the world, besides my own, whose way of life I like so much. I love English traditions, English politeness, English architecture. I even love English cooking,” a quote from Christian Dior. The designer deeply admired the British  way of life, even his first fashion show took place at London’s Savoy Hotel and he then later established the brand as Christian Dior London. 

The exhibition also gives insight to Dior’s creative collaborations with jewellers, shoemakers, and glove makers as well as a focus on some of his earliest elite clients. These include author Nancy Mitford, dancer Margot Fonteyn and a special highlight of the Christian Dior dress worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday. The exhibition will presents over 500 objects and over 200 rare Haute Couture garments displayed alongside the designer’s personal possessions. The virtual show reveals the sources of inspiration which help define the Dior aesthetic, from the intricate designs of Yves Saint Laurent to Maria Grazia Chiuri’s feminist vision. Discover the link to the virtual showcase below.

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Life Doesn’t Frighten Me -Michelle Elie Wears Comme Des Garçons

16.04.2020 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Later this month, Frankfurt based museum Museum Angewandte Kunst is set to open doors to their latest exhibition in collaboration with Haitian couture icon Michelle Elie and Paris based label Comme des Garçons. During the past few seasons, many have noted Elie as one of the reigning queens of Couture Week as she can always be spotted in the streets and in the front rows serving the most inspiring yet flamboyant looks, many of which often happy to be Comme Des Garçons.

“Life doesn’t frighten me” traces the her journey in fashion and the spark of her love story with the brand beginning with her first purchase in 1997 from the brand’s Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body collection, to her fondness of how the brand’s clothing shaped her body during her first pregnancy, to the vast collection of pieces she holds in her closet today. The exhibition will showcase all of the key pieces that speak to her by means of defying ideal standards of beauty and body, while also touching on themes of representation not just in the world of Couture but fashion in general. Which was why she opted for each piece in the showcase to be worn by custom-made black mannequins made to resemble her. 

The exhibition was set to open on April 2nd, but as a result of the current health crisis the opening has been pushed back to April 19th and will run until August 30th 2020. In the meantime the Museum’s director Prof.Matthias Wagner K and curator Dr. Mahret Ifeoma Kupka invites guests to virtual opening where one can get a taste of the exhibition online through the museum’s instagram channel. 

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To Survive On This Shore – A Compelling Visual Documentary of the Older Trans Community

13.03.2020 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

All images are Courtesy of the Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Cover Image: Hank, 76, and Samm, 67, North Little Rock, AR, 2015

Over the past five years photographer Jess T Dugan and social worker & professor Vanessa Fabbre traveled throughout the United States in documentation of the stories and imagery of transgender and gender nonconforming older adults in the country. Traveling from coast to coast , the duo sought out subjects whose experiences of life exist in the intersections of gender identity, age , race , ethnicity , sexuality, socioeconomic background &  geographic location. The result of their venture, a moving body of work giving voice & visibility to an underrepresented group of older individuals with a wide variety of narratives spanning throughout the last ninety years, offering a historical record of transgender experiences & activism in the USA in the form of a book and several exhibitions. 

“So many trans-related stories in the media are about people being murdered orare about discrimination of some kind. With this project, I wanted to create representations of many different ways of living and aging as a trans person. I also wanted to record the history of people who, in many cases, paved the road for the world we live in now. I worried their stories were at risk of being lost or forgotten, and I wanted to record and preserve them,” explained Jess T. Dungan.

“For me, part of the inspiration for this project also came from thinking about the limits of knowledge dissemination in the social sciences, especially in terms of our ability to engage in broader cultural forces and public discourse. I saw the potential to make an impact beyond academia by creating this project together, ” added professor Fabbre.

Each story, each image captured and included in the photo series, shines a brighter light on stories that have been long overlooked, and in many ways creates blooms of hope and validation for onlooking generations of trans individuals.

Dee Dee Ngozi, 55, Atlanta, GA, 2016

“This coming into my real, real fullness of knowing why I was different is because I was expressing my spirit to this world. And I didn’t know how God felt about it, but I believe in God and I have a deep spiritual background and I talk with the Holy Spirit constantly who’s taken me from the Lower West Side doing sex work to being at the White House.” – Dee Dee Ngozi .

Sky, 64, and Mike, 55, Palm Springs, CA, 2017

One of the hardest things in terms of transitioning was the difference in personal space. When I was perceived as female, there wasn’t a lot of touching. Women don’t get into each other’s space. When two women are attracted to each other they don’t immediately put their hands on the other woman’s body. It’s not considered appropriate. Whereas the way men cruise, there’s about two seconds of eye contact, and then an approach, and either hands on your chest or hands in your crotch or some other type of immediate physical contact.I started out with a lot of insecurity in terms of my body, insecure about myself, and it has taken time to build confidence.” – Mike

Duchess Milan, 69, Los Angeles, CA, 2017

“I just know I’m me. I don’t think in terms of names and forms and all that. It doesn’t matter.I’m just myself and that’s who I am.I am at peace with myself. It is the most wonderful feeling in the world because you’re never in a hurry to get somewhere, you know, to prove to anyone that you’re who you know you are. I know who I am, and what other people think about me is none of my business. So that’s who I am. I identify as the Duchess.

I knew that I might lose family, that people might reject me. But I weighed that, and I thought,“If I lose everything and everybody, but I keep me, that’s all that matters. That’s all that matters, because I’m not going to live a life that I’m not happy in, for other people.Why?It doesn’t make any sense.”So I put my money down and took my chances. My family accepted me. They came to accept me, and I’ve had kids around me, I’ve gone to all the weddings, all the funerals, and it’s a situation that everybody just thinks of me as who I am. It’s not even an issue anymore. “Oh, you mean her? Oh, that’s just Auntie.” – Duchess Milan

David, 63, Hull, MA, 2015

“When I was five years old,I found my older brother’s first communion suit. It was a very cool looking suit, white and double-breasted, and it fit me perfectly. I wouldn’t take it off.I wore it everyday. Day in and day out, until my parents got so tired of seeing it on me, they turned it into a Halloween costume as a way to get rid of it.When I was older,I played in this little rock band and one time whenI was over at my friend’s house I heard his mother mention a story about a person named Christine Jorgenson who had “changed sex.”I couldn’t keep my mind on practice after that!I wanted to find out more about this person, but you couldn’t Google it, of course, and so it took me months to find it. I was finally able to piece together that this was a person who knew their gender and went somewhere and there were people who could help.” – David

SueZie, 51, and Cheryl, 55, Valrico, FL, 2015

When we got married, I never imagined that someday my husband would become my wife,” Cheryle said. “Right from the start, SueZie confided that she identified as female on the inside, but transition never appeared to be an option. But, I never had a problem with her wearing lingerie. You know, it’s just clothes. I fell in love with the person inside, and what’s on the outside is more about what they feel comfortable with.”

For more information on the ongoing exhibition and book purchases visit To Survive on This Shore.

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Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago – Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago

12.03.2020 | Art , Blog | BY:

Recently the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA) opened it’s doors to its latest exhibition entitled Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago. Curated by internationally acclaimed Nigerian-British designer Duro Olowu known for his womenswear label, the exhibition is a recollection of the public and private art pieces of Chicago which are anchored by the MCA’s art collection.

The exhibition is a conversation, a map between artists, media and geography which using a combination of paintings, sculptures, photographs and films in layered textured scenes to incorporate fashion. On the ocassion, Olowu engaged with numerous institutional and private collections in Chicago and selected artworks that reflect mutual ways of seeing, selecting, and acquiring across the city, which he curated  in manner to reveal unexpected connections, patters and common interests in  ‘salon-style,’ using vertical wall space and playful combinations to place works in surprising conversations with one another. Olowu has organized the show to prioritize aesthetics and the visual experience of the visitor, with wall colours including saturated shades of orange, purple, and teal – inspired by the exhibition. 

Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago is currently underway at the MCA and will run until May 10th.

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Hen’s Teeth: HONEY DIJON -Black Girl Magic

05.03.2020 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

This evening Hen’s Teeth London launches their latest production HONEY DIJON: Black Girl Magic with Marina Esmeraldo at Dover Street Market which will be followed by an exhibition at the Hen’s Teeth Dublin 8 Gallery. 

The project is a celebration of six black iconic female music icons handpicked by DJ Honey Dijon herself with large-scale neons crafted by Brazilian artist and collaborator Marina Esmeraldo . 

The graphic neon pieces with powder coated aluminium backing feature the likes of names such as Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, Grace Jones, Sade, Erykah Badu and Sylvester and also in limited edition A2 & A3 giclée prints, canvas totes and postcards which will be onsale at DSM and online the Hen’s Teeth website post launch. 

Speaking about the concept for the show, Greg Spring, creative director at Hen’s Teeth, said: “This is Hen’s Teeth’s first big international show and the first in a series of planned exhibits that will see us creating shows with musicians and artists who have never curated shows before. To be doing it with our longtime collaborator Marina Esmeraldo and Honey Dijon, an icon in her own right, who has collaborated with COMME des GARÇONS and Dior in the past year and now Hen’s Teeth, is an unbelievable honour.”

Visit Hen’s Teeth for further details.

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Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana – MEMOS: On Fashion in This Millenium

02.03.2020 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

Late last month during Milan Fashion Week , the Italian chamber of fashion Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana launched an exhibition entitled Memos on Fashion in this Millenium, in collaboration with Museo Poldi Pezzoli and with the support of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

The exhibition was inspired by the series of lectures written by author Italo Calvino  called Lezione Americane which he was set to give at Harvard in 1985, but was never given the chance as a result of his sudden death. During the time, his wife opted to publish the lectures with the author’s original title, Six Memos for The Next Millenium. 

Calvino’s work inspired the exhibition simply because it poses the question  as to whether fashion, as a cultural industry, a communication system, a rich, hybrid yet problematic terrain, be considered a scientific and a poetic practice, and therefore naturally literary? By using his words as a guide , the exhibition takes its audience through a guide throughout the history of fashion by way of memorable images and garments created with deeper meanings to them. 

Featuring a collection of garments, images, objects, magazines that serve as a part of fashion history by designers and creators such as :

Giorgio Armani,  J.W. Anderson for Loewe, Arthur Arbesser, Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga, Boboutic, Riccardo Tisci for Burberry, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Gabriele Colangelo, Maria Grazia Chiuri for Dior, Marco de Vincenzo, Fendi, Maria Sole Ferragamo, Paul Andrew for Ferragamo, Alessandro Michele for Gucci, Maison Martin Margiela, Francesco Risso for Marni, Noir per Moncler Genius, Moschino, MSGM, Fausto Puglisi, Prada, Pier Paolo Piccioli for Valentino, Giambattista Valli, Random Identities Versace and Zegna, all of whom help to shape the 3 dimensional structure of the exhibition’s aesthetic visually designed by Stefano Tonchi.

The exhibition is now underway at the Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan and will be open until the 4th of May.

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Signature African Art: The Way We Were by Oluwole Omofemi

29.02.2020 | Art , Beauty , Blog , Culture | BY:

Cover image : Oluwole Omofemi, ‘Omonalisa II’, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 121 x 121 cm, 2019. Courtesy Signature African Art

Mayfair based art gallery Signature African Art is set to open it’s new space with an exhibition by Nigerian artist Oluwole Omofemi entitled The Way We Were . In the words of the artist herself , the exhibition will be a celebration of Afrocentric pride and a reflection on the post colonial era. Throughout the exhibition Omofemi explores the importance of black hair in the black community as a call for people to assert their own identity through their own stories and shedding traces and definitions of identity left from colonialism.  

The artist also references more recent times regarding The Civil Rights Movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s and the natural hair movement that came with it, made popular by icons such as Diana Ross , Jimi Hendrix and Angela Davis. 

Throughout her work hair is a metaphor for something deeper , a level of freedom prized with the owning of ones own identity, very much similar to the significance and thought process of black woman choosing to keep or go natural in the community. Rendered in oil and acrylic, her paintings at times have simple primary coloured backgrounds, which lend them a vivid Pop Art sensibility; in others, a darker mood is created, referencing the works of the Old Masters.

Located in Davies Street, Mayfair, Signature African Art was founded by Rahman Akar. Of its first show, he says: “We are delighted to be opening a space in London, and thrilled that Oluwole Omofemi, one of Nigeria’s most compelling young artists, is our first show. In addition to his mastery of composition, his works are at once both celebratory and deeply thought-provoking.”

The Way We Were exhibition opens on the 12th of March at the Signature Art Gallery in Mayfair, it will run until the 9th of April.

Oluwole Omofemi, ‘Root II’, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 121 x 121 cm, 2019. Courtesy Signature African Art
Oluwole Omofemi, ‘Omonalisa’ Oil and acrylic on canvas, 121 x 121 cm, 2019. Courtesy Signature African Art
Oluwole Omofemi, ‘Root III’, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 121 x 121 cm, 2019. Courtesy Signature African Art

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Tallawah: A Jamaican story by Jawara & Nadine Ijewere

17.01.2020 | Art , Beauty , Blog , Culture , Fashion | BY:

Later this month photographer Nadine Ijewere and hair stylist Jawara will reveal an exhibition titled Tallawah in collaboration with Dazed Beauty at the Cob Gallery in London.

The showcase takes it’s name from the Jamaican patois word Tallawah, which means small but nonetheless fearless and strong-willed. Throughout the exhibition, Jawara explores his childhood of growing up in Kingston during the peak of Dancehall culture and the influence of creativity in the fashion & hairstyling by the women around him. For photographer Nadine Ijewere, she dives into her Nigerian-Jamaican heritage and aims to paint an image of the stories shared by her mother about the island of Jamaica. 

“This project is very close to my heart,” said Ijewere in a statement. “It was empowering to be able to explore part of my heritage by photographing these beautiful, strong people. The relationship between hair and identity is one I wanted to capture and celebrate – it’s a story that’s important to tell.”

Jawara added: “Small but Strong. Likkle but Tallawah. The strength and beauty of Jamaica.”

Tallawah opens it’s doors at the Cob Gallery in London on January 23rd and will run until February 1st. 

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Theaster Gates: “Amalgam” at Tate Liverpool

02.01.2020 | Art , Blog | BY:

Cover Image: Theaster Gates: Amalgam, installation view at Tate Liverpool© Mark McNulty

American  social and practice installation artist Theaster Gates has opened his first major UK exhibition in collaboration with Tate Liverpool. Titled Amaglam, the exhibit explores the complex issues of race, territory and inequality in the USA. 

More specifically, the artist zooms in on the history of Malaga, a small island off the coast of Maine which served as home to an ethnically mixed community in the 19th century. Close to the end of their time, the inhabitants were forced to leave the mainland sans any offerings of housing jobs or support. Amalgam explores this narrative using a combination of sculpture, installation, film and dance.  An accompanying film , dubbed Dance of Malaga 2019, features the work of acclaimed American dancer Kyle Abraham as well as the artist’s musical collective – The Black Monks , who produce the film’s score. Their music also echoes throughout the exhibition . Theaster Gates: Amalgam is currently on show at Tate Liverpool until May 3rd 2020.  

Installation View of Amalgam at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris © Theaster Gates , Photo: Chris Strong
Installation View of Amalgam at the Studio of Theaster Gates © Theaster Gates , Photo: Chris Strong

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Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines by The National Gallery of Victoria

20.12.2019 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

Cover Image: John Sex, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring at AREA Club, New York, 1985
Photography © Ben Buchanan

The 1980’s in New York City was a period known for several genres of creativity including music, fashion and of course art. There exists a fair share of names who have all helped define contemporary art as it is today, but two of the most prominent influential names are Jean Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring.

Which is why the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne has presented the work of the two artists in an exhibition entitled Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines.

The exhibition offers interesting insights into the artists’ unique visual languages, and reveal for the first time, the intersections between their lives and ideas throughout their friendship. Curated by Dr Dieter Bucchart, it features over 200 artworks including samples of their work to exclusive collaborations as the audience is given a glimpse inside their star studded world with names like Grace Jones , Andy Warhol and Madonna. The exhibition is currently open to the public and will run until the 13th of April 2020. For more info visit NGV

Grace Jones body painted by Keith Haring, New York, 1985 Art © Keith Haring Foundation Photography Tseng Kwong Chi © Muna Tseng Dance Projects
ean-Michel Basquiat in his studio at the Annina Nosei Gallery, May, 1982Photography © Marion Busc

“Ishtar” (1983), synthetic polymer paint, wax crayon and photocopy collage on canvas and wood – Jean-Michel Basquiat Artwork © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York, from Collection Ludwig, Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen

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“The Hoodie” – An exhibition by the Het Nieuwe Instituut

14.12.2019 | Art , Blog , Culture , Fashion | BY:

If one was to compose a list of the most political articles of clothing in modern day fashion, the hoodie would undoubtedly be in the top five of that line up. The garment which went through it’s prime evolution period with Champion in the 1930’s has grown to tell a variety of several narratives including perspectives in music, subculture, androgyny, gender fluidity and most pressingly tales of social equality. Throughout the past two decades with the aid of the media, the hoodie has come to be accused as the narrators in many cases of police brutality & racism. 

“The Hoodie” exhibition, recently opened at the Het Nieuwe Instituut Rotterdam curated by water and curator Lou Stoppard is an in-depth mixed media showcase involving artworks, garments, printed matter, digital footage, social media posts and other cultural artefacts to tell the story of the garment’s history in society.

It explores and examines conversation themes which enable its viewer to consider and reflect on the hoodie’s complicated relationship with contemporary culture from streetwear icon to workwear to political garment. It features work from a lineup of seminal artists and photographers including David Hammons , Campbell Addy, Sasha Huber, John Edmonds & Lucy Orta as well as brands such as Rick Owens, Off-White, VETEMENETS and Vexed Generation.  The exhibition will run until April 2020 and will also be accompanied by a digital magazine featuring specially commissioned essays, interviews and visuals. 

‘February II, 2019’ by Devan Shimoyama
‘EUnify – Berlin 2019’ by Ari Versluis & Ellie Uyttenbroek,  Exactitudes 168 

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The New Black Vanguard -Photography between Art and Fashion

06.11.2019 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

Cover image: Renell Medrano, Untitled, Harlem 2017

A few weeks ago, NYC based not-for-profit foundation Aperture opened its doors to The New Black Vanguard — an exhibition of photography between art and fashion curated by Antwaun Sargent. 

The New Black Vanguard is a visual  documentary of fifteen artists who works fuse the genres of art and fashion through innovative perspective. It compiles the images of these talents that have recently been on reign in magazines,  ad campaigns & museums across the world , be it New York, London, Johannesburg or Lagos.  Each piece of work opens up conversations from different perspectives around the roles of the black body and black lives as a subject matter, collectively celebrating black creativity in fashion and art.

Not only through the hands of photographers, but stylists, designers and other creatives as well. The exhibition includes selected works from photographers including Campbell Addy, Arielle Bobb-Willis, Micaiah Carter, Tyler Mitchell, Daniel Obasi, Justin French and a few others. It will be open throughout the rest of the year and will come to a close on January 18, 2020. For more information visit Aperture. 

Jamal Nxedlana, Late Leisure, 2019
Campbell Addy, Adut Akech, 2019
Dana Scruggs, , Nyadhour, Elevated, Death Valley, California, 2019

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